The Frenchman’s Corner of Culpeper: 129 E Davis St #160, Culpeper, VA 22701; (540) 825-8025
Continuing on our drive from northern Virginia to Charlottesville (see Breadcrumbs 1), we stopped for a break and a stretch in Culpeper. We “discovered” this little town before relocating to NoVa a few years ago, and have found excuses to return every year or so since. It’s got a walkable, main-drag and downtown area packed with restaurants and shops. We hadn’t visited Frenchman’s Corner before, but since it was Bastille Day we felt compelled.
The friendly Frenchman who owns and runs the place, Marc Oremiatzki-Ast, regaled us with a description of the process by which birch bark is used to sweeten some of the specialty chocolates. We assume it’s the syrup of birch trees, which is considered a premium artisanal-chocolate ingredient, but forgive us if we’re missing some of the finer points here. It may be that the syrup also imparts a unique sweetness to the bark itself, which is then ground into the chocolate for a delicate flavor. That seemed to be the process Marc was describing.
We kind of breezed through in a hurry — had more driving to do — and there’s a lot to choose from in this spacious shop (see pic on left at bottom of post). You could visit ten times and still have new things to try, even before accounting for any seasonal changes or menu rotation.
We settled on some chocolate-covered almonds (below left) and chocolate turtles. The premium ingredients command premium prices, so none of those strawberries made it into our bag — maybe next time. The chocolate almonds is where the birch-bark syrup came in, and the turtles were filled, alternatively, with caramel (that yellow guy, below middle) or almonds (the reddy). Marc was also generous with free samples. Everything we tried was delicious, worth the price, packaged nicely and gift-worthy.